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How to become an apprentice or trainee Part 4

Did you know that 40% of jobs are not even advertised? The jobs market can be tough at the best of times with high youth unemployment driving competition for entry level roles.

Method 4: Researching and building relationships

Research(opens in a new tab)  shows employers are using online advertising for jobs more than ever, even so, 40% of jobs are filled through networking alone. It’s a massive opportunity any person should really work through as that plum job may be hiding within your own network of friends, family and neighbours, even the members of your church group or sporting club! This article explores some of the best ways to crack open local opportunities.


OPTION 1: Explore your network

Maximise your chances by talking widely. Many people appreciate how hard it can be to start out or make a big change and will be willing to assist with advice or sharing their own connections. Don’t be shy - put yourself out there or your peers who aren’t so shy may take opportunities ahead of you. Employers like to see passionate, interested and hard-working people of any age willing to give a try to a new skill.

You can share your passions on Facebook community groups but first be sure you have permission from your parent or guardian to use social media if you are under 18, and it’s really important to clean your social media profile of any images or comments that may discredit you. You want to look as professional as possible so that silly selfie you took with a mate, an angst post about a political issue, a chat about having a drink or a smoke or even your latest tattoo may put someone off helping you, no matter how unfair or discriminatory their perception is!

Also, social media can be brutal. Be willing to accept criticism on social media from strangers and be resilient to negative comments. Don’t enter into any argument as any community member will assess your online approach and response before offering you work opportunities or extending their network to you. Despite all the negativity that one helpful person can mean the difference in finding a keen employer!


OPTION 2: Search job ads, directory listings and industry media

Most people will search job ads as a first, basic step of a job search. Websites such as Seek, Indeed, Jora and CareerOne are well known places to find advertised work.

But did you also consider the harder to find jobs advertised on other websites and social media?

Using your passion, build a list of businesses on the industry using a directory search such as Yellow Pages. Then, look up each business website. Look at pages such as ‘Work for us’, ‘Employment’, ‘Careers’ or ‘Jobs’ for advertised jobs or job contacts. 

Then, find their social media buttons on their website. Read their social media feed to see if they’ve posted any job ads, or read the kinds of projects they’re talking about being involved in. They’re all clues to how often they hire, if they promote from within (which may open up entry level roles when they need to replace staff moving up the ladder) and the kinds of skill gaps they need to fill. If you’re on LinkedIn, check out the people who list the business as their employer - do you have any connections you can use to make a soft introduction to the business for you?

Finally, check out industry association websites. Sometimes you can explore their media page or join a free newsletter where you can see some businesses talking up their new expansion or project, then find a contact and offer your help! Or begin building a relationship and show off how well you know the industry with your research!


OPTION 3: Cold calling in your local area

Get brave - this option involves you dressing ready for an on the spot interview and having your resume and ‘value proposition’ ship shape. Target an area near where you live - often similar businesses will locate themselves close to each other so it’s a good idea to search directories for an area within your industry passion.

Living locally to a business has its benefits. You can be available faster than someone who lives further away. Plus, you’re not stretching yourself too far in your job search - what have you got to lose but a few calories on a walk?

Before you begin door knocking, get good advice on how to dress appropriately for the job you want. You may be able to hunt op shops for near-new clothes or talk to friends or family to borrow an outfit so you don’t need to invest too much upfront. 

Then, have your resume and cover letter drafted to suit the local business. Get ready for what you will say - what can you offer the business now? What career goals do you have that might match the business goals? For resume help, consider your local Jobs & Skills Centre, they can help you customise your resume before you take it to an employer.

Print enough copies of your resume and cover letter, practise your speech with a friend and choose a fair weather day, ensuring you plan your visit during business hours (hot tip: don’t approach a hospitality business during meal service, they will be too busy to talk! Try an hour before a meal time instead!). To be even more impressive, look up the business website and social media, if they have any. You can find out their business goals and see how regularly they employ staff and the kinds of roles they offer. Doing your homework first will earn you brownie points with any potential boss!

When you arrive at the business you should ask to speak to the manager or the person who hires employees. You may encounter a ‘gatekeeper’ - this can be a receptionist or customer service officer whose job it is to funnel key appointments to a busy manager. Be polite, ask the staff person to see if the manager can speak right away and if not, to pass along your paperwork. If you’re lucky and if you do manage to speak directly with the manager, be brief - introduce yourself and your goal. Tell them why you’ve targeted your business and the value you can provide. Offer your paperwork, your ability to be contacted for further discussion and leave so you’re not taking their time away from their busy day. If they want to talk more on the spot, roll with it! Or move on to the next business on your hit list.

If you don’t hear anything and felt that a particular manager was showing interest, follow them up with a phone call or email a few days later. Ask them for feedback on your resume, cover letter or approach to the business. Even if the cold call didn’t produce an interview straight away, showing you’re keen to learn and improve can make an additional impression to an employer or even open a new conversation with a boss. Or at the very least give you constructive feedback for your next job application or cold calling walk.

This article is the final part of a series of four blogs to help guide students, career advisors and parent/guardians to navigate the journey to becoming an apprentice or trainee. If you've found this article beneficial, you should read the first three articles!

If at any time you want assistance in working through your options towards an apprenticeship or traineeship study pathway, contact our Jobs and Skills Centres for an appointment.